Lone voices in Iran will be heard

Human rights abuses in Iran, especially since the disputed June election, are growing by the day. Here’s just one way that the internet is spreading the information to the world, away from government thugs:

Following controversial elections in Iran, Ibrahim Sharifi joined the popular street protests. After being tracked down by Iran’s security forces, he was abducted and beaten in jail. But the young man is now in hiding for something he did after his release from jail: bear witness to his rape by security officials. Last Sunday, the world heard Sharifi’s disturbing story of imprisonment and rape via his cell phone camera.

Soon after his initial release from jail, Sharifi contacted cleric Mehdi Karroubi, a presidential candidate who was investigating reports of a wave of prison rapes by interrogators. Sharifi, along with other victims, told his story to Karroubi, who included it in an official demand for a government investigation. While Iran’s Majlis (parliament) was running an investigation about the rape allegations, security agents took Sharifi off the street into a car and threatened to kill his family if he told anything to… the Majlis

Sharifi immediately went into hiding. But when another state-appointed committee declared all rape allegations to be untrue and called for the arrest of those responsible for “tarnishing the image of the holy state”, he felt compelled to bear witness. He recorded his testimony by video on his camera phone and sent the file to a renowned Persian filmmaker in Holland, Reza Allamehzadeh. In the video, Sharifi describes the physical abuse he endured, including blacking out during his assault. “Don’t let the bastards touch any of us again,” he urges.

Allamehzadeh released the footage, along with his own commentary, in a video that has over 125,000 views on YouTube. Sharifi may be hiding from the Iranian government, but he used his cell phone to expose to the rest of the world the abuse inflicted upon him.

Despite the trauma, I’m inspired by these stories (many of which I gather in my book, The Blogging Revolution.)

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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